Horatius Bonar on the union question and church-state relations

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... Dr Bonar, in supporting the overture, maintained that, while union among Presbyterian Churches was eminently desirable, it was absolutely-essential that the Free Church should maintain her distinctive principles. He held that the United Presbyterian Church had not made the slightest concession of their principles, while the Free Church had done so, and this it was which had led to the present crisis. He proceeded at great length to expound the distinctive principles of the Free Church, dwelling mainly upon the relation of the Church and the State.

He contended that the question of the relation of the Civil Magistrate to the Church had not been an open question in the past history of the Church; and that, if they were to found a new Church leaving that an open question, they would stand alone in the face of the Churches in Christendom – they would be proclaiming, not merely that they had altered their creed, but that the Churches of the Reformation were wrong. … He protested against the proposal to leave any of the distinctive principles of the Church as open questions, maintaining that, if such a proposal were carried out, the questions would be open, but the mouths of the members of the Church would be shut, and their hands would be tied. …

For more, see Horatius Bonar on the union question and church-state relations.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
He contended that the question of the relation of the Civil Magistrate to the Church had not been an open question in the past history of the Church; and that, if they were to found a new Church leaving that an open question, they would stand alone in the face of the Churches in Christendom – they would be proclaiming, not merely that they had altered their creed, but that the Churches of the Reformation were wrong. …

Horatius Bonar on the union question and church-state relations.
This raises a couple of questions. First, had Bonar forgotten American Presbyterianism, or did he regard the American churches (with the exception of the RPCNA) as fundamentally non-Reformed?

A separate second question occurred to me. What was the relationship of the ARP (formed in 1782) to the Synod in 1788 that gave birth to the revisions in the WCF? Were any ARP ministers present? Were the revisions officially adopted by the ARP at some point? Anyone know more?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
This raises a couple of questions. First, had Bonar forgotten American Presbyterianism, or did he regard the American churches (with the exception of the RPCNA) as fundamentally non-Reformed?

Did the American churches leave church-state relations an open question? I think that Horatius Bonar is arguing that it is untenable for a church to be neither establishmentarian nor Voluntaryist. As a subscriber to the original WCF, Bonar would have regarded the Voluntaries as un-Reformed on the specific question of church-state relations, even if they were Reformed in other respects.
 
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